UVA Amherst Dialysis Team Gets Creative in Engaging Patients

(l-r) Krystal Dalrymple, RN, and Michelle Haynes, Patient Advocate

UVA Connect

By Kelly Casey (10/16/17)

Bingo? Christmas shopping? These don’t sound like activities you’d find at an outpatient dialysis facility. But the UVA Amherst Dialysis team has made them part of a successful yearlong effort to engage and educate patients.

A model facility, UVA Amherst Dialysis recently earned the first-ever Patient Advisory Council Choice Award from the Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition (MARC has the CMS contract for quality improvement for end-stage renal disease for DC, VA, WVA, and MD).

“Part of our engagement efforts is not doing things for our patients but doing things with our patients,” says Christine Gries, a registered dietitian and engagement coordinator for the Amherst facility.

Over the past year, the Amherst Dialysis team conducted 10 events, including a fast-food challenge. “We made it fun and prepared our own healthier version of fast food,” Gries says. “Believe it or not, we had 100-percent compliance for an entire week from both staff and patients.”

That is impressive when you consider patients spend up to four hours, three times a week at a dialysis facility, which “are always strategically located next to a Hardees or McDonald’s so fast food is a challenge for all of us,” Gries says.

(l-r) Margaret Kinney, CCHT; Kim Smith, Assistant Nurse Manager; Kim Deaver, Nurse Manager; Regina Eggleston, DSA; James Jennings, Patient Advocate; Debra Hensley, CCHT; Shirley Bradley, DSA; Christine Gries, Dietician; Jennifer Nelson, Social Worker

For bingo, the Amherst Dialysis team made special game cards to help teach patients about “adequacy,” meaning how well they are being dialyzed. Patients also won tickets for having their blood work at healthy levels. Depending on the time of year, patients redeemed their tickets for items at a Christmas store or baseball concession stand stocked with items donated by staff and patients.

“Some of our patients live in a nursing home. So for them, this might be their only opportunity to shop for themselves and loved ones. Last year, we had some walkers and canes donated and those went to good homes,” Gries says.

Throughout the year, patients were also involved with quality and patient advisory meetings. Feedback has been positive from patients as well as staff. “I’ve seen tremendous engagement in staff.  We had great employee engagement scores this year and were in tier one for the first time,” Gries says. “None of these events would be successful without everyone helping.”

Kim Smith, BSN, RN, CNN, stated at the award ceremony in Maryland, “Our patients are the center of everything we do. Their engagement along with the entire team is priority in making a difference in our patient’s quality of life.”

Filed Under: Pay It Forward: Community Service